Concerto Spectacular with the Oregon Symphony

Program Listing

Thursday, february 16, 2023, 7:30 PM


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Sponsored by the Oregon Symphony Board of Directors


Deanna Tham, Conductor
Jeffrey Work, Trumpet
Sergio Carreno, Percussion
Jonathan Greeney, Percussion
Stephen Kehner, Percussion
Michael Roberts, Percussion
James Shields, Clarinet
Nancy Ives, Cello

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari

Overture to The Secret of Suzanne

Franz Joseph Haydn

Concerto in E-flat Major for Trumpet and Orchestra
Finale: Allegro
Jeffrey Work

Andy Akiho

Selections from Seven
Pillars Pillar II
Pillar III
Pillar V
Sergio Carreno
Jonathan Greeney
Stephen Kehner
Michael Roberts

Aaron Copland

Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra
Slowly and expressively – Cadenza – Rather fast
James Shields

Camille Saint-Saëns

Concerto No. 1 in A Minor for Cello and Orchestra, Op. 33 In one movement
Nancy Ives

John Corigliano



Program Notes

Overture to Il Segreto di Susanna (Susanna's Secret)
Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major
Selections from Seven Pillars
Clarinet Concerto
Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33
Tournaments for Orchestra

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Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari

Overture to Il Segreto di Susanna (Susanna’s Secret)

Work composed: 1907–08
First Oregon Symphony performance
Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, timpani, harp, and strings
Estimated duration: 3 minutes

Born to a German father and Italian mother, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s music reflects a cosmopolitan, international approach to composition. Wolf-Ferrari was known primarily for his 11 operas; the one-act buffa (comic opera) Il Segreto di Susanna (Susanna’s Secret) brought him his greatest international acclaim when it premiered in Munich in 1908. A newly married Count detects the scent of tobacco when he returns home, and suspects (without any proof, of course), that his bride must be “entertaining” a mysterious rival who smokes. The quicksilver overture hints at the opera’s sudden shifts of emotion: love, jealousy, suspicion, lust, and irrepressible humor.


Franz Joseph Haydn

Trumpet Concerto in E-flat major

Work composed: 1796
Most recent Oregon Symphony performance: James DePreist led the Oregon Symphony on February 10–12, 1991
Instrumentation: solo trumpet, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, continuo (harpsichord and bass), and strings.
Estimated duration: 13 minutes

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto made the clarinet, then a relatively new invention, a regular member of the orchestra. This concerto also became the most famous and frequently played concerto in the clarinet repertoire.

Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto achieved the same legitimacy for the modern trumpet. Trumpets themselves were not new, but the specific instrument Haydn wrote for, invented by Anton Weidinger, principal trumpet for the Viennese imperial court, expanded the trumpet’s technical and expressive capabilities in groundbreaking fashion. Haydn was so taken by the new trumpet’s ability to play a far greater range of notes than its predecessor that he promptly wrote a concerto to showcase it and Weidinger. That concerto has become a staple of the trumpet repertoire.

What made Weidinger’s trumpet so special? Baroque trumpets, unlike their modern counterparts, have no valves. Players change pitch through their embouchure (mouth position), which means the instrument can only sound the notes of the harmonic series. Weidinger’s trumpet can produce all the notes in the chromatic scale by use of metal keys, which significantly expanded the number and range of notes the trumpet could sound.

In 1800, when Weidinger premiered Haydn’s concerto, he took out an advertisement announcing his invention, which he would unveil “to the world for the first time, so that it may be judged, a trumpet which – after seven years of hard and expensive labor – he [Weidinger] believes may be described as perfection: it contains several keysand will be displayed in a concerto specially written for this instrument by Herr Joseph Haydn, Doctor of Music.” A contemporary reviewer noted the significance of Weidinger’s achievement: “Mr. W. is fully conversant with all the halftones lying within the compass of his instrument, and to such an extent that he plays running passages through them. Furthermore … the instrument still possesses its full, penetrating tone ...”

For today’s audiences, the fact that a trumpet can play “running passages” of chromatic notes hardly merits mentioning, so it might be difficult for us to appreciate the significance of both Weidinger’s improvements and Haydn’s music. Oregon Symphony Principal Trumpet Jeffrey Work notes, “Haydn’s famous trumpet concerto holds a most important place in the history of my instrument. Haydn showed, with great ingenuity, the possibilities of the newly invented instrument side-by-side with what people expected from the old. In effect, he took the trumpet off the existing map and placed it firmly onto a new one.”


Andy Akiho
b. 1979

Selections from Seven Pillars

Work composed: 2020. Commissioned by Sandbox Percussion. Nominated for a GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Classical Composition in 2022.
First Oregon Symphony performance
Instrumentation: bass drum, brake drum, glass bottle, glockenspiel, high-octave crotales, kick drum, large rubber band, low woodblock, 5-octave marimba, 18 metal pipes (9 tuned, 9 semi-dry), resonant metal, temple block, vibraphone, wood table/cigar box
Estimated duration: 17 minutes

Seven Pillars is the culmination of an almost decade-long collaboration between Oregon Symphony Composer-in-Residence Andy Akiho and the four members of Sandbox Percussion. Akiho writes for people rather than instruments, and he tailored Seven Pillars to the particular strengths and musical sensibilities of each player. “I was inspired by the collaborative relationship I have with Sandbox,” Akiho said in an interview. “We’re all close friends, we enjoy making music together, and there is freedom to experiment in that type of environment.”

Tonight’s performance showcases three of the seven pillars. Pillar II features the ethereal sounds of bowed vibraphone and high-octave crotales (small pitched brass or bronze disks), described by Sandbox Percussion’s Jonny Allen as “an otherworldly experience … with glowing amorphous sounds.” In Pillar III, vibraphone, metal pipes, crotales, and “found” objects including a glass bottle, an unpitched piece of metal, and a cigar box mounted on a wood table trade dancing riffs back and forth. Allen says, “We are treated to Akiho’s version of a backbeat – in 13 beats rather than four – which is layered with complex variations that culminate into a fire-alarm of sound” ending with a “sedated coda.”

“Pillar V is a sadistic game,” Allen continues. “The marimba is now an integral part of the sound world with its rich depth, and the piece has also begun retracing its steps by reflecting the forms of previous movements … With each repetition, this piece swells like a festering wound and … ends with a manic, obsessive, accelerating repetition of its six pitches.”


Aaron Copland

Clarinet Concerto

Work composed: 1947–48
Most recent Oregon Symphony performance: Guest conductor Enrique Diemecke led the Oregon Symphony with clarinetist David Shifrin on March 9-10, 2002
Instrumentation: solo clarinet, piano, harp, and strings
Estimatedduration: 18 minutes

In 1947, jazz clarinetist and bandleader Benny Goodman asked Aaron Copland to write him a concerto for clarinet. Copland composed a two-movement work that would simultaneously showcase Goodman’s extraordinary improvisational skills and technical ability, but also fuse the rich rhythms and colors of jazz with the timbres of a classical orchestra. “I had long been an admirer of Benny Goodman,” said Copland, “and I thought that writing a concerto with him in mind would give me a fresh point of view.” In recalling the genesis of this concerto, Copland later said that Goodman “assumed that since I was writing a work for him, I’d know more or less what he’d like to play. The decision to use jazz materials was mine, inspired, of course, by Goodman’s playing. Although I didn’t mention this to him, I was certain that he would approve. But, contrary to certain commentators, the jazz elements in the Clarinet Concerto have nothing to do with the ‘hot jazz’ improvisation for which Benny Goodman and his sextet were noted.”

Copland provided his own description of the Clarinet Concerto: “The first movement is simple in structure, based upon the usual A-B-A song form. The general character of this movement is lyric and expressive. The cadenza that follows provides the soloist with considerable opportunity to demonstrate his prowess, at the same time introducing fragments of the melodic material heard in the second movement. Some of this material represents an unconscious fusion of elements obviously related to North and South American popular music. The overall form of the final movement is that of a free rondo, with several side issues developed at some length. It ends with a fairly elaborate coda in C major.”


Camille Saint-Saëns

Cello Concerto No. 1 in A minor, Op. 33

Work composed: 1872. Dedicated to and written for Belgian cellist, gambist, luthier, and music educator Auguste Tolbecque
Most recent Oregon Symphony performance: Guest conductor Mario Bernardi led the Oregon Symphony on January 13–15, 1985
Instrumentation: solo cello, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 clarinets, 2 bassoons, 2 horns, 2 trumpets, timpani, and strings.
Estimated duration: 19 minutes

Camille Saint-Saëns’ career spanned seven decades; during that time, he was both vilified by conservatives for his endorsement of Richard Wagner’s music in the late 1850s, and dismissed by Claude Debussy as “the musician of tradition” in 1903.

Although Debussy’s words were meant as disparagement, many of Saint-Saëns’ contemporaries, including the notoriously opinionated Hector Berlioz, held him in high esteem. Saint-Saëns favored established (and, to his French detractors, foreign) genres: symphonies, concertos, sonatas, and chamber music. During his childhood and teen years, Saint-Saëns immersed himself in the music of Beethoven, Mozart, Mendelssohn, and Schumann. Throughout his lifetime, Saint-Saëns’ most popular and successful works adhered to these Germanic influences.

The A minor Cello Concerto both reflects and departs from tradition: Saint-Saëns compresses the standard three-movement concerto form into one continuous movement with three contrasting sections. The solo part simultaneously showcases the cellist’s skill and incorporates the solo line into the orchestra, resulting in a deft musical collaboration.

The premiere of Op. 33, in the winter of 1873, helped establish Saint-Saëns as a rising star, but the conductor, Édouard Deldevez did not think much of it. He told Saint-Saëns that if acclaimed cellist Auguste Tolbecque were not giving the premiere, Deldevez would not have included it in the concert at all. Deldevez’ opinion notwithstanding, the concerto entered the repertoire immediately, and has been a favorite of cellists and audiences ever since; Pablo Casals featured it in his London debut in 1905.


John Corigliano
b. 1938

Tournaments for Orchestra

Work composed: 1965. Dedicated to Phillip Ramey
Most recent Oregon Symphony performance: Enrique Diemecke led the Oregon Symphony on March 9–11, 2002
Instrumentation: piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon, 4 horns, 2 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion, keyboard, harp, and strings
Estimated duration: 12 minutes

John Corigliano’s music constitutes one of the richest, most unusual, and most widely celebrated bodies of work any composer has created over the last half-century Corigliano’s works have earned him the Pulitzer Prize, the Grawemeyer Award, multiple GRAMMY Awards, and an Oscar, and have been performed and recorded by many of the most prominent orchestras, soloists, and chamber musicians in the world.

Tournaments is an early composition, written when Corigliano was 27, and brims with the exuberant energy of youth. Over the course of its three sections, the primary theme – Corigliano refers to it as a motto – is repeated, transformed, and treated with ingenious variety, using complex rhythms, shifting meters, and a dizzying array of timbres. Corigliano writes, “As the title implies, Tournaments is a ‘contest piece,’ a sort of mini-Concerto for Orchestra in which first desk players and entire sections vie with each other in displaying their virtuosity … After a brief fanfare announcing the ‘tournament’ with a three-note motto in brass and strings, and a downward rush of woodwinds, a jaunty chorale tune expands from the motto, and forms the raw material of the entire work.”


© Elizabeth Schwartz